You normally don't mention Soriano and good defense in the same headline, but this year the Cubs left fielder has some renewed focus out in the field. I'm almost expecting him to make that diving catch every so often. This time, it helped preserve a 2-1 lead when he made a diving catch, then doubled off pitcher Eric Stults, who was already halfway around 3rd. 1B Jeff Baker also made a game saving play in the bottom of the 8th when the Padres had cut the lead to 4-3 and put a man on 3rd with nobody out. Yonder Alonso hit a line drive that Baker snared with a backhanded dive to his right to prevent the tying run from scoring and preserving the win for Jeff Samardzija.
On the Mound:
I'm starting to get past the point where I'm wondering if Jeff Samardzija is for real. I'm expecting him to do well every time out. Today was no exception. Samardzija had good command for the first 7 innings, save for a fastball he left up for Carlos Quentin. He seemed to tire in the 8th and once gain left a couple of pitches up. A triple by Will Venable made the score 4-3 in the 8th with nobody out, setting the stage for Shawn Camp to get out of that inning, with help from Baker's glove.
James Russell came in to get the last 2 outs of the game to get his first career MLB save. The win was Samardzija's 5th of the year against 3 losses. He has a 3.09 ERA.
At the Plate:
Watching this game, I got the feeling the Cubs should have been doing more against Stults in the first 4 innings, especially with the wind blowing out. They finally got to him in the 5th when Stults repeatedly got behind, then when he did throw a strike missed inside and the Cubs made him pay. Reed Johnson singled and then was doubled home by Darwin Barney to tie the game. After Barney went to 3rd on a sac fly, Stults once again got behind, missed inside and Samardzija drove Barney home with a go ahead single. That seemed to open the door as the Cubs scored at least once in each of the last 4 innings. Soriano added to the lead with a 400+ HR to CF in the 6th, while Barney got his second double of the game and eventually scored on a passed ball in the 7th. The Cubs added a much welcomed insurance run in the bottom of the 8th when Joe Mather hit an Andrew Cashner 100 mph fastball opposite field for a double, then was singled home by Jeff Baker.
On a side note, we can expect to continue seeing the RH lineup as Mather, Baker, and Reed Johnson all contributed on offense and took part in the scoring. It's not my favorite lineup in the world, but hey, if it works...
The Cubs win 5-3 for their 2nd in a row after a 12 game losing streak. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't mean much but it looks like the players are regaining their confidence and for me, as a fan, it's making the games much more enjoyable to watch again. I'll probably be at the game tomorrow, so hopefully the Cubs make it 3 in a row before they head off to the west coast.
Filed under: Game Recap